I’m usually a very private person. I don’t usually discuss my personal shortcomings openly unless I have wrestled with it and settled on my own feelings about it. It’s a tool I’ve had in my arsenal for years. It provides time for me to reflect without influence, and maintains this very stoic, brave, and tough outer shell. Internally, I’m wrestling with so many issues at once, I’m almost too scatterbrained to be organized. The sole root of all my material issues is money. Whether it’s the crushing weight of student loan debt, or trying to make sure every commercialized holiday is exciting for my 7 year old, or just getting the bills paid on time. I spend a lot of time thinking about money.
While I have made steady advancements in my career over the last 4 years, each position I’ve taken has been accompanied with a pay increase. As far as income is concerned I am in a class among my peers that complains about tax returns, stock price decreases, and the overwhelming cost of living that continues to increase month after month in Seattle. According to a national study in the Journal of Urban affairs, every time rent increases $100, homelessness increases by 15%. I’ve watched the rental rates jump from $1,000 to $2,400 in just two months’ time.
So here I am in a situation that has indeed left me homeless. Bad credit and the obsession to create stability for my daughter has left me scrounging up $2,250 a month, just for rent. And while I may not always pay on time, I always pay. This past weekend I received the news that my landlords would no longer be accepting my money, and that they were going to file legal action to have me removed from my home. A week prior to this conversation I was asked about whether I had a copy of the leasing agreement, because my landlords did not. I know my rights as a tenant but I decided instead to relinquish my rights to the property and gracefully start over from scratch, yet again. This was the third private home owner I have interacted with in 3 years, and they have all been terrible. When you need a place to stay, and your credit was ruined before you were even of age to ruin it, they jack up rent prices and offer very little in return for your money. They change leasing terms on a whim and drop by to pick up rent 3 days early. They knock on your door to ask personal questions about the company you keep and attempt to scald you like children for any misstep. Needless to say, they remind you often that you are just a tenant and where you are residing could never really feel like home.
I’ve kept all this in because I didn’t want to be judged, didn’t want to be called a bad mom, or irresponsible, when in reality I am the pillar of stability and responsibility for my immediate family. I am not only supporting my daughter. When I get in “binds” like this no one jumps to aid me because “She always figures it out.” The truth is, I do, I always figure it out. So in an effort to correct my credit, climb out of debt, and collect experiences, I will embrace my situational homelessness with open arms. I will not be any less commanding in my daughter’s life. I’ll have a cushy income and a lot of goals to knock down. I am cutting the ties of stability to test drive a freelance lifestyle.
Why? Because I am tired and weathered by the society that puts massive importance on receiving a standardized education and then ties astronomical debt to us before we ever step foot into the real world. Sick of having to be uncommonly strong and unmoved by hardship. Tired of battling egos with others who are no better or worse shape than me. I’ve been paying anywhere between $2,200 - $3,500 a month, just in living expenses, because that’s what I was told to do. I have been doing this by myself, with a little help here and there from others. I am relinquishing my faith in this system and putting my faith in God to lead me where I need to be. Taking things day by day and not stressing the future.
I am so outrageously grateful for the stability my daughter has in her paternal family. If it was not for her father and the force behind him that allows him to be everything she needs and then some I could not embark on this journey, I would be in a state of terror if this was not true for us. In that, I recognize my privilege. I have been offered a once a lifetime opportunity to shape my life on my own terms and I won’t take it lightly. We’ve all heard the saying “Be the change you want to see.” This is where I start. I get a chance to be artistically free, debt free, and most of all free of the deadly toxicity that is stress. This is just another bump on the road of life, there will still be those who judge, those who condemn, but I shared this because I know I’m not alone. This is a reality for so many, and the burden of this standardized way of living weighs more heavily on some than others. I hope to carve out a path that can help others who are struggling. Most importantly, I look to the future with joy and optimism because for once, I actually feel free.